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Some Stories About Legendary Designer Paul Rand

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 17, 2021

poster with a white oval and black paint splatters on an orange background

Once upon a time, Jayme Odgers was the assistant to Paul Rand, the legendary Modernist designer who designed some of corporate America’s most iconic logos (IBM, Westinghouse, NeXT, UPS, ABC). Odgers recently shared some stories of what it was like to work with Rand.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Paul Rand’s thinking is that he didn’t believe in endlessly coming up with idea after idea, exhausting all possibilities, which typically eats up one-third of a design budget. He believed ideas are virtually endless-where does one stop anyway? He told me all you need is one good idea — and not all ideas have to be award-winners. A graphic designer needs only to be a professional and offer a professional solution. Easier said than done.

On smaller projects like the Bollingen book jacket and the Aspen poster, Paul simply knocked them out in whiz-bang fashion. With larger projects like creating a logo/mark or branding system, Paul would take that “one decent idea,” then spend the next six months and 100% of the budget refining that single idea to its most perfect visual form and content. There were no sketches, no meetings with the client, no midway reviews, just the most serious investigation, development and design resolution of an idea imaginable.

These stories verge on the hagiographic, but they’re still fun & instructive to read. And the idea that obsessives are difficult to work for comes through anyway. (via @drudesign)